At a time when some think the NBA is poised to take a piece out of the NFL, it’s as clear as ever that the NBA is many pieces away from getting close to the NFL.
Through five weeks of regular-season action, the NFL is averaging 16.4 million viewers for its broadcasts. That’s a 6 percent jump over last year.
On Thursday night, in a head-to-head matchup with playoff baseball, Giants-Patriots drew 16 million viewers, and Rays-Astros generated 3.67 million. And while football appeared on a three-letter broadcast network with more distribution than whatever cable platform carried baseball, the Patriots were 17-point favorites in the NFL contest, and the Rays and Astros were playing a postseason elimination game.
Besides, Wednesday’s Nationals-Dodgers elimination game aired on FOX, and it had an audience of only 5.86 million.
Then there’s basketball. Despite all the drama of free agency, which results in an annual belief that the ratings are just about to explode and they never do, the 2019 NBA Finals averaged 15.14 million viewers — still less than the average NFL regular-season game to date.
None of this is a knock on the other sports. It’s just a reminder that, as the other sports desperately try to knock the NFL off the top of the TV ratings hill, the NFL isn’t going anywhere any time soon.